Unsah Malik is a leading social media expert, a female entrepreneur and the Author of Slashed it.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m a Social Media Expert and author of the best-selling social media growth e-book SLASHED IT who’s been working in the industry for around 10 years in total if we include my work experience days!
I started by interning in journalism (I’m also a journalism graduate), where —at first by chance but eventually intentionally — was always be placed on the digital desk. At the time, hiring someone for a social-specific role was non-existent so when this ’new thing’ of Twitter and Facebook for business at the time popped up, the responsibility would be passed down to me to publish a few posts on an ad-hoc basis after I had written my article. Publishers were way more clued on about the social media space than brands back then — in fact, very few product-based businesses used to utilise social media properly. This eventually became the area most people in the company or team knew me for, so when a social media role became a real thing for the first time, it naturally made sense for me to take this path.
As I’ve more or less grown with the industry and have been working within social media since its infancy, I’ve seen the peaks, dips and patterns for what does and doesn’t work — and I’ve also been in the wonderful position of working for a number of industries and world-renowned brands. I’ve been the person pitching as much as I’ve been the person pitched to.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Yes. A few roads may have led me to different (in hindsight, also better) paths, but I was dead-set on a plan from a pretty young age.
I always wanted to be a journalist at a magazine or national newspaper. My speciality was fashion, even though my degree was straight journalism. I started interning when I was 17 and continued to intern throughout my studies, degree and gap year. I asked anyone and everyone to let me help them. I didn’t care about the name. I just wanted the experience — and I wanted lots of it. People always ask me whether I regret missing out on typical student-life experiences. The answer is no because a) I never felt stressed or mentally impacted (very important!), and b) I didn’t have a taste of the experience to know what I missed! Maybe a part of me has truly missed out on something special? Who knows.
Anyway, within that time frame, of around 5 years, I practised my writing day in and out while also navigating the social media space. Slowly but surely, more reputable publications would accept my pitch, and I also won a writing competition at ELLE Magazine to be a Digital Journalist for a month (ironically, I was back a few years later as their Social Media Manager!). The Guardian hired me as the Social Media Editor for the Travel desk a week before I graduated.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
So many. Firstly, when I was younger and to some extent is still exists today, journalism was for the privileged white person. At university, I could count the number of people from other ethnic minority groups studying journalism on one hand. It was a white man’s world if you wanted to work for a national newspaper, and it was a white women’s world if you wanted to work for a glossy magazine. And I wanted both! The cultural and race differences was a shock to my system, to begin with, mainly because I was born and raised in a very multi-cultural area. I found myself explaining simple things like what Eid is and, believe it or not, where Pakistan sits on the map.
Secondly, if I had to list how many ‘failures’ and challenges I’ve crossed, I could probably give a couple of Literature authors a run for their money in the length of text! Especially now as I work for myself and consult different businesses while navigating my own SLASHED IT business. Every other day there’s a new challenge to overcome — but without those challenges or the ‘failures’, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have tough days, but the biggest difference in those who make it on the other side and those who give up is the attitude and perception on what failure means. For me, it simply means it’s time to change the direction and re-strategise.
What’s been your biggest achievement to date?
I’m not sure I have a single biggest achievement because each phase of my life has that one golden moment until I hit the next. We can cut it down to two…
My first big achievement was being the youngest person at a mid-level position in the world for a national magazine. At the age of 23, I was ELLE’s Social Media Manager.
My second big achievement is my e-book and the success of it so far even though it’s only been 5 weeks. I’m on track to making 6 figures by end of Week 9 to 10. It’s not an ordinary e-book. It’s constantly updated and has been quoted as “better than a degree” and “worth more than £1000+” courses by several industry seniors. The information you’ll find here, you will never find elsewhere. It’s not generic and none of the information is google-able (which I found the biggest pain when looking into courses or help available for others by so-called ’social media experts’).
The best part of the e-book is that it works for both newcomers to the industry and established marketers, as well as all level businesses and content creators. It might sound vague as I explain it now, but my three self-developed rules to long-term social media success can be used by anyone and everyone providing they put in all the work. It’s over 50 chapters long and packed with case studies and tasks to complete, but you’ll see real growth on the other end if you stick to it — like many of my customers already have.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in achieving success?
I always think I’m going to be successful. I never doubt it. I don’t allow myself to think I won’t smash my goal. I definitely have days I’m hit by a roadblock or ten, and perhaps it might take me longer to reach the end goal than I had anticipated, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I know that providing I put in the work and remain consistent with it, I’ll see progress. That’s enough to get me going!
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I would love to be a mentor when I have the time in my diary to do so! So many people who follow me on @UnsahMalik on Instagram send me sweet messages explaining how my motivational and inspirational posts help them. I love helping others. I believe it always returns too. I think the whole mentor-mentee relationship can be so valuable, with plenty for both parties to gain.
There are a few people who had managed me in the past who I now use as my go-to for advice and answers, so I’d love to be that person for someone else.
My e-book only kicked off 5 weeks ago so things are a little crazy right now, but who knows what the near future brings?
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
Implement a rule which simply bans companies from paying males with the same level of experience and/or potential more than their female counterparts.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
People’s negative attitude and behaviour towards you is a reflection of them, not yourself. Don’t react – especially when you’re full of hurt.
What is your next challenge and what are you going to achieve in the future?
More public speaking and a second book – this time, on motivation for the modern worker.
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